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Forests 2013, 4(4), 1199-1219; doi:10.3390/f4041199

An Exploratory Assessment of a Smartphone Application for Public Participation in Forest Fuels Measurement in the Wildland-Urban Interface

1
Department of Forest Resources Management, Faculty of Forestry University of British Columbia, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
2
Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, W1-16E Van Vliet Centre, Edmonton, AB T6G 2H9 Canada
3
Department of Wood Science, Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, 2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 August 2013 / Revised: 26 October 2013 / Accepted: 11 December 2013 / Published: 16 December 2013
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Abstract

Wildfire management in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) protects property and life from wildland fire. One approach that has potential to provide information about the amount and location of fuels to forest managers and, at the same time, increase public knowledge and engagement in reducing wildfire threats is public participation in scientific research (PPSR)—also known as citizen science—where members of the public participate in the research process. In this exploratory study, residents of a wildfire-affected community tested a smartphone application to collect data about forest fuels and answered questions about wildfire, their community, and experiences using the application. In this paper, the application is introduced, the volunteers’ motivations, attitudes, and behaviors are considered, and the potential of using a PPSR approach for wildfire management discussed. Although there are practical challenges to applying PPSR approaches to wildfire hazard management, the participants in this study demonstrated the potential of PPSR to increase awareness and understanding of actions that can reduce the threat of wildfire. Wildfire managers may consider utilizing PPSR approaches to engage the community in wildfire preparedness.
Keywords: citizen science; public participation in scientific research; remote sensing; smartphones; wildfire management; wildland-urban interface citizen science; public participation in scientific research; remote sensing; smartphones; wildfire management; wildland-urban interface
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ferster, C.J.; Coops, N.C.; Harshaw, H.W.; Kozak, R.A.; Meitner, M.J. An Exploratory Assessment of a Smartphone Application for Public Participation in Forest Fuels Measurement in the Wildland-Urban Interface. Forests 2013, 4, 1199-1219.

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